Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Craig Lowell, Scott Millis, Kevin Benedict, Liz McMillan, Chris Kocher

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, IoT User Interface, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

Avoiding the Hidden Costs That Derail Cloud Projects

The Challenge: Making Your Private Cloud Fit Your IT Infrastructure Puzzle

Most companies that have embarked on a private cloud journey find themselves in one of two unfortunate positions: they've already spent much more than they had planned or they're struggling with how to make sure costs don't get out of hand. These are typically companies with sophisticated IT organizations - organizations that ask tough questions and put detailed plans in place. For example, an international bank spent millions of dollars and six months of professional services time before scrapping their existing cloud project and restarting it with a completely new approach and toolset.

The Challenge: Making Your Private Cloud Fit Your IT Infrastructure Puzzle
Cloud automation vendors make deploying a private cloud sound easy. If you take their basic out-of-the-box capability, the good ones will probably take you anywhere from a few hours to a few days to get a simple self-service private cloud working. While that may make a nice proof-of-concept demo, will that actually meet the needs of how you manage your infrastructure or will you need to replace prior technology and best practice investments to make your cloud work?

Cloud management is not a standalone entity. For your cloud to be successful, it needs to integrate and work with your existing management infrastructure and best practices. As you evaluate cloud management platforms, you need to assess how each tool works with your current and future management ecosystem. Your cloud management choice will not only impact prior investments, it can also limit your future choices. In order to avoid some of the hidden private cloud costs, evaluate how cloud management options will fit with your existing IT ecosystem.

  • Deployment Technologies
    Does your cloud management plaform work with the current technologies used to deploy your infrastructure? This includes both the private resources in your data centers and public cloud resources. Does it support the operating system, server virtualization tools, and desktop technologies being used today as well as the ones you may want to use in the future?
  • Management Infrastructure
    Typically, the delivery of a private cloud service requires a work order ticket to be generated, an internal database accessed, and that specific tools be used to deploy software, monitor the environment and take corrective action. How easily does your cloud management platform work with your current management tools and processess? Will you need to replace these tools or pay for extensive customization to make your cloud management solution work?
  • Best Practices
    As part of continuous process improvement, companies should always be looking to streamline and improve their processess. Deploying a private cloud is a large paradigm shift and some process changes will likely be needed to facilitate end-to-end automation. However, your cloud management software should not force changes on you that don't make sense within the guidelines established for your company. Remember that substantial changes required by the vendor are likely to be costly in terms of time and effort, if not also technology.
  • Custom Self-Service Portal
    All cloud management products provide some level of self-service capabilities. An out-of-the-box self-service portal simplifies initial deployment. However, what if your company already has a self-service portal or existing work order ticketing system? The last thing you will need is yet another portal. How easily can your existing portal be integrated with your cloud management services and will you need to spend time and money reproducing all the security in the custom portal?

Cloud Management Extensibility
Extensibility is also a critical factor in private cloud costs. Wikipedia defines extensibility as: "In systems architecture, extensibility means the system is designed to include hooks and mechanisms for expanding and enhancing the capabilities without having to make major changes to the system infrastructure." Often this means making modifications at runtime without requiring changes to the original source code.

Most cloud automation products will only automate a portion of your provisioning, ongoing management, or decommissioning processes. Therefore, an extensible architecture, combined with multi-vendor support, are fundamental components of cloud management platforms as they're needed to facilitate integration with the current IT infrastructure and management ecosystem.

With regard to extensibility, cloud management software products typically fall into one of the following two categories:

  • Prescriptive Tools
    Many cloud management solutions were built for a specific problem, like lab management, and have prescribed processes, limited interoperability, and lack the extensibility features needed to adapt to more broad-scale deployment requirements.

Any tool that requires drastic changes to existing management tools, infrastructure components, or operational processes will result in additional capital costs required to replace existing technology as well as additional investment in people who can use this new technology and processes.

The other challenge is that your company will likely be unable to achieve the savings you have envisioned because the automation solution will not meet the needs of the various business units. These business groups will either stay with their current manual process, reducing the percentage of your infrastructure that can be moved to an on-demand cloud, or they will implement a different cloud solution that does not provide your company with the operational scalability and savings you could have had with a single integrated solution.

  • Automation Toolkits
    Some vendors provide very basic cloud management capabilities and augment their cloud management offering by providing separate run book toolkits or "orchestration" products. This option allows companies to completely customize their cloud solution. However, there are multiple hidden costs associated with this implementation choice:

Initial services costs outweigh the software costs
These solutions tend to require lengthy and expensive custom services projects where services typically cost three times as much as the software.

Customized solutions are not easily extended to other business
In addition to the higher upfront costs, cloud automation solutions built with an automation toolkit tend to be built specifically for the needs of a single business. When companies try and expand the use of the highly customized solutions, they either have further customization costs or suffer from limited adoption across the enterprise.

Customized solutions make upgrades to newer release difficult
Many customizations strand the implementation at a specific release, making upgrades to newer versions difficult and costly.

Mitigating Private Cloud's Hidden Costs
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of some of the hidden cloud deployment costs and how your automation choice can not only affect costs but also impact your actual savings. It's important that you can adapt and expand automation with tools targeted at both IT operations as well as developers. In order to enable the quickest time-to-cloud value, companies should consider the following capabilities when evaluating cloud management platform software:

  • Comprehensive out-of-the-box functionality
    First and foremost, you will want a cloud management solution with a comprehensive set of out-of-the-box cloud management features. Many vendors only focus on initial provisioning capabilities. Make sure your cloud management platform automates the complete life cycle including ongoing management, resource reclamation, and decommissioning including archiving. The more features available out-of-the-box, the less need for costly custom services to extend the product's core functionality.
  • Broad multi-vendor support
    When evaluating cloud management options, make sure that the tool you choose can orchestrate end-to-end delivery across all the technology and management components that make up your implementation. Most vendors only support components from their own offerings. Unless you're a single-vendor shop, that means you may need to discard your prior investments and be locked into that vendor's technology in the future. Multi-vendor support includes technologies used in your private cloud as well as public cloud resources.
  • Policy enabled extensibility
    How extensible is your cloud management platform by just changing configuration parameters? Can you select different provisioning workflows, collect custom data, define resource limits and service levels, or create custom approvals or reclamation workflows? These are just a few of the many customizations you should be able to make via policies. The more you can customize your cloud deployment via policies, the quicker and more cost-effectively you will be able to deploy a private cloud infrastructure that meets company's specific needs.
  • Business-aware governance
    Being able to modify the behavior of your cloud via policies is important, but just as important is the granularity of the policies that can be configured. They must be granular enough to allow different business groups to have different services that are built and constructed using different processes, resources and service levels. For example, the way you provision and manage IT resources can be quite different for dev/test vs. production vs. desktops. Business-aware governance and control is fundamental to meeting the unique needs of each business and driving broader cross-group adoption of cloud services.
  • Modify out-of-the-box automation
    Can you easily add tasks or call scripts at various states in the machine's life cycle? Is there a visual workflow editing tool and a library of predefined activities that simplify the customization process? For example: How easily can you add a self-service command to perform a specific function, access/retrieve information from a custom DB as part of the provisioning process, or execute a script to customize a machine configuration? Are you modifying the workflows that ship with the product or is this a separate run book automation or "orchestration" tool that you need to bolt onto the cloud management tool?
  • Automate additional tasks
    Can the cloud automation platform be used to automate additional tasks that go well beyond simple modifications to out-of-the-box processes? For example, one company extended the process used to provision new desktops to also automate the process of onboarding new employees. If you need this level of extensibility, one factor that should be considered is the availability of developers with this skill set. Automation tools based on de facto standards like Visual Studio and .NET will be much easier to find developers for than a vendor-specific automation tool.

Implementing and managing a private or hybrid cloud doesn't have to be so expensive. Make sure you're armed with the knowledge needed to fully evaluate your cloud vendor's offerings for potential hidden costs. Otherwise your business may find itself putting cloud projects on hold or having to justify a much-increased budget.

More Stories By Rich Bourdeau

Rich Bourdeau is VP of Marketing at DynamicOps. He has over 20 years of experience in developing, managing and marketing IT infrastructure management solutions for enterprises. Rich has spent the last four years at DynamicOps helping companies deploy and manage their private cloud infrastructures. He is a regular contributor to the DynamicOps blog and has authored papers on Must Have Cloud Management Capabilities as well as Building the Business Case for Private Cloud. Rich can be reached at [email protected] if you want to learn more about cloud management.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We are a modern development application platform and we have a suite of products that allow you to application release automation, we do version control, and we do application life cycle management," explained Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Venafi has a platform that allows you to manage, centralize and automate the complete life cycle of keys and certificates within the organization," explained Gina Osmond, Sr. Field Marketing Manager at Venafi, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Qosmos has launched L7Viewer, a network traffic analysis tool, so it analyzes all the traffic between the virtual machine and the data center and the virtual machine and the external world," stated Sebastien Synold, Product Line Manager at Qosmos, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Redis is not only the fastest database, but it has become the most popular among the new wave of applications running in containers. Redis speeds up just about every data interaction between your users or operational systems. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dave Nielsen, Developer Relations at Redis Labs, shared the functions and data structures used to solve everyday use cases that are driving Redis' popularity.
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We are the public cloud providers. We are currently providing 50% of the resources they need for doing e-commerce business in China and we are hosting about 60% of mobile gaming in China," explained Yi Zheng, CPO and VP of Engineering at CDS Global Cloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effici...